Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)

Many, who give Christianity a go, so to speak, do so on the basis of emotive appeals and/or yearning. And many, who eventually and effectively fall away, do so because Christianity seems incoherent. This may manifest itself as outright rejection, as neglect, or in wayward departure from essential verities and their application. Application is an entailment of genuine faith; much as technological applications entail genuine faith in underlying principles of scientific theories.

Proponents of Christianity can do little in regard those who honestly cannot reconcile Christianity with perceived realities; or those who exalt their own reason and/or psyche as the ultimate arbiters of Truth and the Good, especially whenever the counter-intuitive wisdom of the God of Scriptures comes into conflict (which shall inevitably occur); or those who were never sufficiently serious.

However, proponents of Christianity ought to, at least, ensure that the Gospel and Full Counsel of God that is transmitted is scripturally faithful and thereby rationally coherent. It is cause for deep grief and great disgust when it is the errant teachings of ecclesiastical orthodoxy, which prove contrary to Biblical orthodoxy, which are the reasons for initial or eventual rejection. It is cause for deep frustration when more time is required disabusing what Christianity is not, perpetuated by those self-identified and supposedly Christian, than in explaining what Christianity is.

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The Atonement of Christ, as the sating of the wrath of God unto our Justification, is one such ecclesiastical orthodoxy, deserving of such disdain. Continue reading “Substitutionary Atonement: The Satisfaction of the Wrath of God? (Long Read)”

Corporate Prayer

I do not like corporate prayer; nor do I do it very well. True corporate prayer is as intimate as sexual relations. And the former can and has very much led to the latter. True corporate prayer means vulnerability. And in anyone who has received a steady diet of barbs and rejection by the visible church over the years, such are disinclined to be that exposed. I do not know how to reconcile this.

Most of what I have observed and experienced in corporate prayer is formulaic and at arms-length. I have been to one men’s group in which each man took dutiful turn praying for one of the others in a painfully formalist exercise. I expect that it is all quite ineffectual and worthless.

Wednesday prayer meetings are the worst. Above eighty percent of prayers offered deal with someone’s sickness or some other malady with pleas for recovery. I am seriously tempted to go “full heretic” and pray that someone that I know be killed off.

And then there are those who self-ordain themselves as prayer warriors. These tend to hog the allocated prayer time with largely incoherent mumbles. They might as well as be praying in tongues. Actually, it would be an improvement since we could then demand an interpreter of the tongue.

Some have complained on this count. I have hitherto tended to excuse such prayer warriors; although I have often prayed, during those ordeals, that I was snoring narcoleptic. However, there was a recent incident, in which one self-styled prayer warrior was quick and indeed manifested a readied preparation beforehand to reject a personal request in a somewhat desperate situation.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (James 2:15–6)

Consequently, my belief is that unless one is willing to be the sacrificial conduit in the fulfillment of those muttered prayers, those mumbles are but one long and tedious liturgical blasphemy. For if the prayer of concern is not matched by a conduct of concern, it emits the stench of disingenuity and hypocrisy. Certainly, this would inherently reduce the length of those warrior’s prayers.

Imputed Injustice – The Judicial Importance of Consent

Imputed Injustice

Imputed Injustice – Calvin Against the Calvinists

It is my empirically justified belief that modern Protestant Evangelicalism, and particularly its seminarian elite, have little comprehension of the nature and principles of Justice, including that of due process. In this, the seminarians have seriously failed to uphold the triumvirate of concerns that Christ Jesus deemed primary: judgment/justice, faith, and compassion (Matt 23:23). And if one does not comprehend the nature and principles of Justice, one cannot comprehend the Justice in the Justification in the Atonement.

A, if not THE primary argument deployed to validate the notion of humanity’s collective guilt in Adams’s sin is proof by blackmail. If one repudiates the imputation of Adam’s sin and guilt upon all, neither can one subscribe to the imputation of Christ Jesus’s work on behalf of those who put their faith in Him. We would thereby still be hopelessly dead in our sins. Continue reading “Imputed Injustice – The Judicial Importance of Consent”

Imputed Injustice

It is my empirically justified belief that modern Protestant Evangelicalism, and particularly its seminarian elite, have little comprehension of the nature and principles of Justice, including that of due process. In this, the seminarians have seriously failed to uphold the triumvirate of concerns that Christ Jesus deemed primary: judgment/justice, faith, and compassion (Matt 23:23). And if one does not comprehend the nature and principles of Justice, one cannot comprehend the Justice in the Justification in the Atonement.

I am not keen on citing myself as an authoritative source. I would rather leave such quasi-divine pretentions to Canadian Supreme Court Madam Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé in one of those “No Means No” sexual consent cases. However, in the absence of someone else who shares my conclusions, the observations and arguments contained within the citation, rather than the credentials and merits of its author, must do.

One of those many grievous ecclesiastical follies to which God, in his superior wisdom and knowledge of my psychological constitution (Ps 139: 1–18), shielded me from knowing through long Bunyanesque ordeal and psychosis, was the theological and judicial travesty of the imputation of Adam’s sin guilt upon all of his descendants. I would have been like this gorgeous lad, (although less gorgeous), which Faith Today deployed to model those Millennials who reject the faith of their parents.

Rejecter of the Faith

Continue reading “Imputed Injustice”

The Gospel of the Kingdom

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15)

To his credit, N.T. Wright is rightly restoring the ‘sociopolitical’ dimension of the Gospel to the Christian consciousness, even if his soteriology is ultimately incoherent and heretical. For, the first manner by which Christ proclaimed the Gospel (Matthew 4:23, Mark 1:15) is as the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is near about Christ’s last (Matthew 24:14). Indeed, the nature of the Kingdom was constant theme of Christ’s teachings.

It is by means of exploiting the atomistic impoverishment of the Americanized Gospel that NT. Wright establishes a greater credibility over the existing orthodoxy, which he thereupon extends into his perspective on the nature and meaning of Justification. For, to the American Evangelicals…

The gospel is the great news of what God has graciously done in Jesus Christ, especially in his atoning death and vindicating resurrection, his ascension, session, and high priestly ministry, to reconcile sinful human beings to himself, justifying them by the penal substitute of his Son, and regenerating and sanctifying them by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, who is given to them as the down payment of their ultimate inheritance. God will save them if they repent and trust in Jesus.1

…the Gospel merely becomes a matter of “how to get saved”. And in the industrial strength commoditization of Christian conversion through such methodisms as the Altar Call and The Four Laws, salvation becomes a formalistic ritual equivalent of baptismal regeneration. “Take a little walk; say a little prayer; sign a little card; get saved tonight;” (to a modified chorus from K.C. and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” (1975)).

Continue reading “The Gospel of the Kingdom”

Rob Bell “Love Wins” – Hell or Purgatory – Part 1

I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. (Ezekiel 33:7-9, 3:17-19)

My heart lacks appetite for publicly critiquing and directly confronting the absurd nonsense that I hear from those who purport to represent Christianity. Really! Truly! I say this, despite the overwhelming evidence that I do unapologetically publicly critique and directly confront the absurd nonsense that I hear from those who purport to represent Christianity.

I cannot do otherwise, even if I must forgo ambitions for public office. I have tasted too much of Hell and some of Heaven; such that I intimately know of these spiritual realities. The Gospel and Full Counsel of God that I observe in Scriptures; when unfiltered by second and third rate theological/philosophical ruminations, disingenuous sophistries, factual and scriptural selectivity and interpretative contortionism; is pristinely rational and grants a wondrous intellectual and moral clarity.

And I will seek to use as incisive a surgical wit, to which I have been endowed, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 10:5). But I retain a terror that in “speaking truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15); I favor or appear to favor too much, the truth side. Inevitably, some people will always declaim; although I have little motive in denigrating another. Or they will accuse without being able to honestly and objectively point out the mean-spirited in that specific comment. (With written, recorded words, one can always return to source.) But there are occasions when after one speaks repeatedly and gently on a matter of great import, a polemic thump is necessary.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. (The Second Coming – Yeats – 1919)

Continue reading “Rob Bell “Love Wins” – Hell or Purgatory – Part 1”


“What is truth?” Behind this caustic retort by a representative of the classically educated elite of Roman society, this quip epitomized a final status of human thought of ancient Western civilization. It epitomizes the status of our own modern [Western] thought.

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.1

Pilate is characteristic of those lacking conviction; whereby no idea, principle or ideal is deemed worthy of defending. If sufficient pressure and threat to survival and self-interest is mounted against persons without belief, such persons will fold. Whatever Pilate’s personal sentiments about Jesus, it was insufficient to extend his neck over; unlike the zeal of the Jews over a trifling matter of images of Caesar being displayed in Jerusalem.2

In the end, those who fail to confront evil are little better than those who advocate it. The latter thrives in the presence of the former.

Continue reading “Truth”

Knowledge of Sin and Transgression: At Least as Concept

That humanity has an intrinsic ‘moral sense’, few deny. Even physicalists (i.e. Jesse J. Prinz) gratingly concede that “Like language, religion, and art, morality seems to be a human universal.”1 Of course, such persons, in zealous piety to their naturalist dogma, repudiate this universal attribute as having any objective reality. Like the religious ‘instinct’, such devotees advance unsubstantiated (or spuriously substantiated) claims that morality “is a [mere] byproduct of capacities that were evolved for other purposes. Morality is a spandrel…The fact that our lives are thoroughly permeated by norms may be an accident.”1 However, in light of the universality of this ‘moral sense’, at scientific levels of confidence, the ‘supposedly’ rationalist and empirically minded demonstrate an astounding abundance of irrationality.

Any skepticism as to the universality of knowledge of the concept of sin and transgression, conscience, judgment and all the other accruements of ‘moral sense’ in this Postmodernist (or Post-Postmodernist) era might be quickly laid to rest by a nasty little work by a British climate change organization 10:10. A little video clip called “No Pressure”, produced by “Britain’s top comedy screenwriter Richard Curtis”2 (Four Weddings an a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, and the Mr. Bean sitcom) would have all individuals, of all ages, self-exploding with blood splattering, for failing to commit to and practice a reduction of their carbon footprint by 10%.

It is interesting that the reporter and many of the comments posted in a left-wing newsmedia’s website a left-wing newsmedia’s website (The Guardian) excused, welcomed and applauded the sentiments in the video. That is, prior to the public opprobrium that caused the original 10:10 organization to withdraw the video from public view within hours. For, one can detect in the deep recesses of the heart of such dogmatic disciples of AGW, a ‘moral sense’ that could legitimately be labeled pathological; lacking proportionality over the issue and towards their fellow man.

Nevertheless, the gory fantasy contained all the elements of ‘moral sense’; of an ideal or standard to aspire towards, of rules and regulations engineered to attain that idea, of violations and transgressors, of judgment, condemnation and the punishment of extermination out of opprobrium and intent to deter others. Even the retraction of this politically-obtuse AGW political organization, ostensibly contained elements of “moral sense” and acknowledgement of ‘sin’.

At 10:10 we’re all about trying new and creative ways of getting people to take action on climate change. Unfortunately in this instance we missed the mark. Oh well, we live and learn.2

Even the cult of tolerance and intellectual/moral/cultural equivalence finds it impossible to escape ‘moral sense’ in not willing to tolerate the intolerant; that is; in condemning those who fail to acknowledge and abide by their ethical ideal and standard and their definition of tolerance.

It is not a matter that the current era does not understand the concept of sin and transgression. It is merely that their ethic/ethos differs from Christian, classical and traditional norms. Contained in the 10:10 organization’s retraction, the very clause missed the mark is the very essence of the definition of sin. Neither sin (definition: coming short, missing the mark) nor transgression (definition: overstepping a boundary/limit) are alien concepts to the mind of humanity. It is simply impossible for humans, being in the image of God, to escape this psychological propensity and studiously remain morally-neutral for long.


  1. Jesse J. Prinz, “Against Moral Nativism”, September 2004
  2. Damian Carrington, “There will be blood – watch exclusive of 10:10 campaign’s ‘No Pressure’ film”, The Guardian, Thursday, 30 September 2010,



Euthyphro Dilemma – A False Dichotomy – Revised

It is written:

      I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For, since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.1

I have always disdained the dialogues of Plato for their format. Recognizing similar tendencies from my own childhood Walter Mitty fantasies, the protagonist and hero, in this case Socrates, always seems to have the equivalent of bowling pins for interlocutors. Euthyphro certainly constitutes one such lame antagonist; noticeable when one isolates his responses from the great Socrates. Euthyphro might have even been a real person and therefore, a real pushover. But in my experience, one’s ideological adversaries tend to have a more substantive and detailed rationales for their opinions, even if their reasoning will be found to be fallacious and spurious.

“The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy; or holy because it is beloved of the gods.” [Socrates] 2

To put the question posed in modern vernacular, “Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God?”3 One of the common sophist tricks and deceits is to contrive a question with presumably only two equally abhorrent options, suckering the respondent into not thinking beyond this box of the dichotomy. But, there just might exist alternatives beyond the snare. Even coin flips sometimes can land on its side (1 in 6,000 for the U.S. nickel).

The other problem behind these rational inquiries is the presumption that Reason can, if wielded by a pristinely competent and honest practitioner, can ascertain all answers and understanding. As much as I believe in and enjoy the use of reason, I have come to realize its natural limits. (And our and my natural limits to reason!)

Through reason’s natural proclivity for infinite regress, Richard Dawkins thinks he can disprove the hypothesis of God. If God created the universe, who created God? And by extension, who created the person, who created God? And who created the person, who created the person, who created God…? The problem with the argument is that the alternative is no less rationally absurd and inexplicable. How did something come into being from nothingness? The naturalist might like to obfuscate the question by reducing existence, through the Big Bang theory, to a singularity. However, the existence of that singularity cannot be explained through reason. Whether we live in a theistic or a non-theistic universe, they are both rationally absurd and incomprehensible. (There are other theories of existence, less rationally credible. But they don’t escape from the rational conundrum.) And yet, here we are! Our existence is an empirical fact. And it is categorically impossible for such existence to derive from reason.

Another one of those paradoxes, (and I thank fellow madman Nietzsche (‘Beyond Good and Evil”) through which the conundrum was conceived), is that the virtue of truthfulness (intellectual integrity) cannot be derive through reason. For, in order to incontrovertibly arrive at the conclusion that truthfulness is a virtue, one must employ it in the first place. In other words, truthfulness must be an axiomatic epistemological attribute (one must, as a necessary foundational value, be truthful in one’s inquiry of such matters), in order to reason that truthfulness is a necessary foundational value. It becomes a circularity and therefore, rationally incoherent.

This is not to suggest throwing out reason and living out one’s life through leap of faith, apart from reason. Christ and the Apostle Paul certainly deployed its use. 4 The framework of civilization, let alone civilization itself, would soon regress to the proverbial caveman all-against-all existence. Law and moral authority of civil authorities requires rational consistency; a dearth of which is undermining the credibility of the judiciary. However, it is an inescapable conclusion of the insufficiency of Reason alone to explain all; even were the thinker pristine in virtue and acumen.

Behind this sophist snare, of the kind that Christ was not unfamiliar (Luke 20), include the apparent conundrums.

If the Good is whatever the god or deity commands, all that which constitutes the Good is an arbitrary value. (Even Good itself, has been argued is of arbitrary validity.5) If the Good is to be defined as an objective measure beyond God’s edict, then God is not omnipotent. He is subject to that which is greater. Secondly, God cannot be both virtuous and omnipotent. For omnipotence, in the minds of these detractors, means being able to do even what is evil. The underlying heart of these questions intends to demonstrate that morality can exist apart from God.

What is right and wrong depends on God’s commands such that his commands alone are what make actions right or wrong. There is no reason for what is right and wrong and morality is arbitrary.

God commands us to perform certain actions and refrain from others because certain actions are right and others are wrong and being fully rational he knows what is right and wrong and being completely good he issues commands to humanity that conform to his moral knowledge. Yet morality is autonomous from God’s commands and is something to which God must conform. Thus God is not omnipotent over morality.6

There is a “quarreling about words”7 quality to this discourse. However, current Evangelical nostrums on this matter, significantly detract from their relevance in the wider world. And these shibboleths do not even correspond to the arguments contained within Scriptures to which they allege allegiance. One response is to suggest that His commands emanate out of His own nature and character, which is presumed Good.

The third option is that good is based on God’s nature.  God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good, and then reveals what is good to us.  It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not arbitrarily declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself).3

This perspective (Modified Divine Command Theory8) attempts to avoid the charge of caprice and arbitrariness by moving goodness from mere will of God as from that emanating from the character of God. God will not command evil because it is unthinkable or overwhelmingly abhorrent for His to do so because of His nature. It doesn’t succeed on the former and makes worsens the conception of God.

Humanity, at least the larger and saner part of it, abhors the idea of being determined; of lacking Free Will. In the few arguments that I have had over Calvinism, what is the core heart cry of my interlocutors over the Doctrine of Sovereign Grace is the primal dread of only being a programmable robot.9 The thought of the mecha David in A. I. destroying all his duplicate copies because it violates his primordial need for uniqueness encapsulates the horror about such a reality. Although neuroscience and psychiatry, and those who occupy the Commanding Heights of philosophy of mind subscribe to the idea of physiological determinism (genetics and neurotransmitter), the belief system by which they operate are disguised and muted; knowing that their reception would be as repulsive and repudiated as that of religious determinism.

If humanity bears the image of God; that is, if we share a common psychological structure as our Maker, however that is constituted; why would we ascribe to God features, which we would find in ourselves, abhorrent? Would not God similarly find the idea of lacking true Free Will reprehensible? This philosophical god would be the god of the algorithm. And indeed, if this determined god ultimately lacks genuine choice, the qualities of morality, good and evil lack intrinsic coherence and meaning.

Since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself.11

The problem with the paradigm ‘moral acts are willed by God because they are good’ is that of adjudication. Those who suggest an external standard of Good could exist apart from God could very well be correct. However, the question yet remains, who is worthy in virtue and wisdom to determine what that external standard is and whether God complies. Those who believe they could fill such shoes, are foolishly arrogant and/or ignorant of the difficulties in ascertaining such. Any such self-appointee would quickly find themselves targeted under the same skepticism and scorn by others who have their own ideas of the ‘ought’. The history of humanity attests to this reality; with incessant rebellion and disobedience to civil and other authority; whether justified or unjustified.

Other than an omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the heavens and the earth, what other legitimate and workable alternative is there? Once one begins to go down the road of charging arbitrariness behind any form of authoritative ethics, no one need morally respect any ethical system or those who impose it. The French Revolution highlighted the implausibility of attaining a universal consensus through Reason as faction after faction cannibalized each other. And even if a consensus could be reached, it doesn’t necessitate that it knows the Good. Other than subjectivism, relativism and moral nihilism, whose practicable effects are lawlessness, chaos, misery and destruction; any who dares to define the Good will be similarly charged with caprice and arbitrariness by their peers and inferiors. This does answer the central dilemma. However, it illuminates the unwinnable sophistry in the question.

There is a third option, although it might appear as mere modification of existing options. That is, that God embodies the Good (“I am the way and the truth and the life.”12); both in being God and concurrently, in an objective sense. That is, God never required discovering the Good. But from eternity past, He always knew and embraced the Good. And that Good will prove objectively, with the light of omniscience, intellectual and moral integrity and virtue to be the Good. Reason might scream, from the argument of infinite regress, when did God determine that objective Good. But like the absurdity of existence without possibility of rational theistic or naturalist explanation; it just is.

A mere assertion hardly constitutes rational proof of this proposition. However, it does show that the Euthyphro coin can land on its side. It does resolve the respective charges of arbitrary caprice on the one hand and lack of omnipotence on the other.

And reason is like Newtonian Physics. It breaks down at the infinite extremes.


In response to one conjury that denies the possibility of God being both omnipotent and virtuous; this argument works only if God be a god of the algorithm. That is, by His internal constitution; His programming, so to speak, He cannot categorically sin. And many a Christian adherent have made such claims themselves; possibly to secure themselves in His reliability for goodness, as if by logical supposition. However, our God is a personal god, with Free Will to sin at any time. In this, He remains omnipotent. It is just that He constantly elects to do the Good. This is a personal universe and our safety and security lies ultimately in the virtue, wisdom and power of a personal God, not in a logical deduction.

From the perspective of insignificant, weak mortals, dependence on a overwhelmingly powerful God, who theoretically could drop or abuse us


  1. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21
  2. Plato, “Euthyphro”, c. 380 B.C., Transl. Benjamin Jowett
  3. Matt Slick, “What is the Euthyphro dilemma?”
  4. Matthew 23:16-22, Romans 2
  5. Nietzsche makes such argument in his book “Beyond Good and Evil”. However, he seems not to realize that he has substituted the Good in Judeo-Christian and Classical sense with as standard of good of his own; that of life-affirming. As judgment is an inherent psychological component of sentient beings, it is impossible not to judge by some criteria.
  6. Mark Timmons, “Moral Theory: An Introduction”, 2002, pp 28-29.
  7. 2 Timothy 2:14
  8. Robert Merrihew Adams, “A Modified Divine Command Theory of Ethical Wrongness”, From Religion and Morality, 1975, pp 318-347
  9. Sovereign Grace issues
  10. Sam Harris, “Free Will”, 2012 gives a sophomoric and simple-minded overview of the thesis. However, all extant sub-hypothesis as to how this works are contradicted within their own ideological community and the Benjamin Libet family of experiments is profoundly flaw on their philosophical (and non-scientific) conception of ‘Free Will’. However, that is a topic of another project.
  11. Hebrews 6:13
  12. John 14:6